Ikan Toman or Ikan Haruan, a type of fresh water snakehead fish is highly valued for medicinal benefits.
Many Malaysian companies are producing Pati Ikan Haruan or Fish Essence, similar to Brand's Essence of Chicken to help people who after surgery require a speedy recovery. Wounds seem to heal faster when the patients drink soup made from this fish. At one time the price of this fish soared up to RM40 a kg in Miri. Today the price has stablished a little, hovering around 18 a kg for the larger species.
Ikan Toman actually can be found in fresh water streams all over Sarawak. The most popular streams being the drains of the rubber gardens and the padi fields.
During padi planting seasons the farmers often trap this fish for their dinner. According to an Iban legend, ikan toman can even be found in a hollow of trees which can trap water for a long time!! This is to tell the Ibans that nature has a wonderful way of rewarding the good people.
There are many ways of cooking it. Steamed, or even double steamed with ginger and a bit of good wine, would give one the purest nourishing clear soup for healing of wounds. Deep fried, the toman is tasty. Toman can be salted or kesamed. It can also be cooked in bamboo with ginger, lemon grass and wild bamboo shoots. It can be roasted over a fire, occasionally wrapped in any kind of leaves, especially banana leaves. It can also be curried. A very versatile ULU fish. One day it will become an endangered species.
So I have been wondering if hunters, fishermen and farmers have ever found ikan toman in the hollows of trees.